The little girl asked her mom three questions that afternoon as the two of them made their way home. The little girl had been to an Easter egg hunt. A friend from her kindergarten invited her. Her mom picked her up, right on time.
Sunlight flickering through the tall pines felt good as they traveled along. Still it made the little girl close her eyes as she told of her adventures that afternoon. The other kids, her brothers and sisters, were other places. It was just the two of them, and though she could sit anywhere, she had taken her usual place in the backseat. Her mom could see her in the rear view mirror. That was how she knew her daughter’s eyes were closed.
“Mom, do you and daddy still love each other?” the little girl with eyes still closed asked taking her mom by surprise.
How does she know? The woman asked herself, searching for an answer. Had she heard them arguing; they tried to keep it quiet and make sure everyone was asleep when they had their word fights.
She took three deep breaths and counted backwards from ten to zero like her therapist had told her to do when she felt anxious.
“And with each breath, breathe in the goodness of the universe,” she could hear her yoga coach whisper in her ear as she took in her three breaths. Her yoga coach had helped her find her “chakras,” a good thing too she thought to herself as she worked to get centered.
“We do, we still love each other,” she finally answered. The little girl with eyes now opened, listened. Love is complicated, she went on to explain, reminding her daughter of all the classes on love she had been taking and the books she had been reading like, How to Find Love and How to Keep It, and the talk shows she watched everyday while her daughter watched cartoons. Those talk shows were loaded with experts on love. With degrees in psychology and sociology, they knew what they were talking about and besides, they were friends with celebrities and movie stars, who were always happy.
Her daughter’s eyes said she wasn’t convinced by her answer and the woman was glad when she noticed them closed again.
“Mom, why are you sad all the time?” the little girl asked once again hurling her mother into a panic. Had she forgotten her medicine, her happy pills, as her husband call the little tablets she gulped down every morning with her vegetable smoothies? He did the same and called them, his happy pills too, only he didn’t take his with a smoothie. He washed them down with something from the liquor cabinet and followed it with a swish of mouthwash on his way out the door for work.
He hadn’t told her he loved her in so long, she couldn’t remember. She hadn’t told him either. She watched the diamond he bought her for their last anniversary catching the setting sun’s rays.
“Feel your feelings,” she heard her therapist whisper; it was the same thing she heard the people on television saying too, as she flicked her big screen TV through its triple digit channels.
“Mommy is happy,” she told her daughter watching for a reaction in the child’s once again opened eyes. It’s true, you can’t fool a child, not one who loves you, she thought watching her daughter’s expression and waiting for another question.
The question came, and though she managed to answer the other two, this question left her feeling small and empty and all alone and afraid and confused and lost. There were no whispers from her therapist, nor advice from talk show gurus. This question, her daughter asked cut deep into her soul… way beyond her “chakras” and the chemical reactions her happy pills made happen in her mind. This question, her daughter asked for which she had no answer, made her cry inside.
“Mom, who is Jesus?”
This is a work of fiction dedicated to those of us who too often forget the way.
Edward Reed 2019